South Carolina has long been one of the most pertinent early presidential primary states, and they could have two local legends among the 2024 aspirants.

Former Gov. Nikki Haley opened Valentine’s Day by announcing her presidential campaign, the second official Republican candidate, following Donald Trump’s haphazard effort in Florida a week after November’s midterm elections. Haley is expected to give an official launch speech Wednesday in Charleston.

Sen. Tim Scott suddenly appears ready for a presidential run of his own. The South Carolina Republican is soon embarking on a “listening tour” in Iowa, the first state on the 2024 calendar.

The entrances of prominent Palmetto State politicians are relevant due to their homes and history.

Since 1980, the South Carolina GOP primary winner had won the party’s nomination in every cycle except 2012, when Newt Gingrich captured the state but was eventually dispatched by GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

But there’s a catch:

Haley and Scott — winners of multiple statewide races and rising stars within the party — could split votes among people who want the party to move away from Trump and gravitate back toward winning conservatives.

And for those who wisely realize the best way to defeat Joe Biden next year is nominating anyone but Trump, a larger field undeniably enhances the former president’s chance to again sneak through with a small but rabid base.

Last month, Trump appeared in the state with Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Trump already failed a South Carolina test last year against Haley when he endorsed a radical challenger to popular incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace, who was openly endorsed by Haley and won.

Haley has her own unique history with Trump. In 2016, she and Scott endorsed Marco Rubio for president in South Carolina before she joined Trump’s Cabinet later that year and enjoyed an incredibly successful U.N. Ambassador tenure. After writing positively about the administration in her 2019 memoir, Haley vowed not to run for president if Trump did.

Throughout her Tuesday morning video, Haley listed important topics, such as fiscal responsibility, patriotism, and strong border security. As the likely only female contender, she warned about impending threats from the socialist Left — using pictures of arm-flailing lunatics like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders —  as well as China and Russia. She also exuded optimism, as opposed to left and right-wing populism that constantly bashes America. She shouldn’t expect an endorsement from Tucker Carlson or Joy Reid.

“I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants,” Haley explained. “Not black, not white, I was different. But my mom would always say your job is not to focus on the differences but on the similarities. And my parents reminded my siblings and me every day how blessed we were to live in America.”

In addition to youthfulness and competence, she reminded Republicans of the massive electoral losses endured the last few cycles, thanks mainly to Trump and his handpicked candidates.

“Republicans have lost the popular vote in seven out of the last eight presidential elections,” she added. “It’s time for a new generation of leadership to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border, and strengthen our country, our pride, and our purpose.”

While praising her entrance, some conservative intellectuals still warn of the tightrope Haley faces with Trump.

“I don’t think she can tiptoe the way she did in this video about Trump. She will have to address, head on, the fact that she worked for Trump and how she can distinguish herself from the guy she worked for,” Christine Rosen said on Tuesday’s Commentary Magazine Podcast. “She highlighted her foreign policy experience. She used it to contrast how grateful we should be to be Americans…I liked the visuals she used to contrast how we need a new generation.”

Following her announcement, Haley will appear at New Hampshire town hall-style events on Thursday and Friday, followed by a trip to Iowa.


Ari Kaufman is a correspondent for several U.S. newspapers and magazines from Minnesota and Ohio to Tennessee and Virginia. He taught school and served as a military historian before beginning his journalism career. The author of three books, he is also a frequent guest on radio programs and contributes to Israel National News and here at The Lid.